The Shiv Sena has, over the years, taken all kinds of measures to oppose any kind of socio-cultural contact with Pakistan. A few days back, it forced the cancellation of concerts by Pakistani ghazal singer Ghulam Ali in Mumbai and Pune. Emboldened by the success, Shiv Sainiks went ahead and smeared ink on Sudheendra Kulkarni, now chairman of the Observer Research Foundation and speech writer of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Kulkarni was closely involved in the India launch of former Pakistan foreign affairs minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri’s book, Neither a Hawk nor a Dove: An Insider’s Account of Pakistan’s Foreign Policy. With rising protest across the country from liberal voices, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis intervened strongly and the book launch did take place. By appearing at Kasuri’s press meet without washing his face or clothes, Kulkarni made a major point against the Sena.
The Sena has been at this game for years. In 1991, Sainiks vandalised Bombay’s Wankhede Stadium two days before a one-day series and, in 1999, they dug up the pitch at Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla; the test match, nevertheless, happened. In 2010, they had sought the eviction of Pakistani contestants Veena Malik and Ali Saleem from Big Boss 4. But the fact of the matter is the country is not interested in opposing socio-cultural contact with Pakistan; it has moved on. What the Shiv Sena needs to do to stay relevant is ensure a climate where more investment flows into Mumbai and the rest of the country.